The 61-year-old musician is at a creative and personal peak, and one supports the other. He thanks his happy home life with wife Kristen and their three young children for enabling him to enjoy the recent reunion tour with Fleetwood Mac and to create some of his best work yet, which he released this week as his sixth solo album, Seeds We Sow.
He took time out of his preparations for his upcoming national solo tour to talk about the new album, Fleetwood Mac and what the future might hold.
AP: What inspired this album?
Buckingham: It wasn’t any one thing that inspired it. Normally there’s kind of a calling. ... In the case of this one, Fleetwood Mac had just come off the road and I thought we’d do some more dates. There was no agenda to make an album, no agenda to express anything in particular, but the time opened up as a surprise, and I thought I guess I better fill it.
AP: Why do you say this may be some of your best musical work?
Buckingham: When I’m working with Fleetwood Mac, it’s more like moviemaking. It’s collaborative, and you have to bring in something like a full-on song, which would be like the analogy of the script. It’s a more political process. When you work alone, it’s more like painting. You go down to the studio and you’ve got this sort of one-on-one with the canvas. You’ve got the freedom of not necessarily having a full-on song. You can have a rough idea and you make a start. It’s like a painter throwing colors on the canvas – at some point, they’ll paint over some part but the work starts to take on a life of its own and lead you in a direction you might not have expected to go. There are many more surprises that happen when I’m doing solo work.
AP: You wrote, played, mixed and engineered the entire album. What are the challenges there?
Buckingham: Basically, you kind of grow into all that. ... It’s all my own sense of how to do things. It always has been – how to teach myself how to play guitar, how to teach myself to write or sing, how to teach myself to record. Because I don’t really know music. I mean I do, from a certain center, but not from an academic point. I think a lot of people who get taught try to get back to the place I’m at, but I think of myself as kind of a refined primitive.
AP: What was it like touring with Fleetwood Mac again in 2009 after being apart all those years?
Buckingham: I keep feeling like the Fleetwood Mac experience ... seems like it keeps getting better for me. That’s just a reflection of how things have gotten better for me personally as a solo artist and just in my personal life, and I can bring all that back and appreciate all the nuances of Fleetwood Mac and add to the mix in a very communal and supportive way.
AP: The band’s biggest album, Rumours, was partially about your breakup with Stevie Nicks. What is your relationship like now?
Buckingham: I’ve known (Stevie) since high school. I spent some time with her when she was finishing up her solo album and mine was already done. We worked on some stuff together and had some real quality time. And all these years later, that there’s still some chapters to unfold with the two of us seems just to be the sweetest thing.
AP: You’ll be on your solo tour through November. Then what?
Buckingham: There’s a certain amount of, I wouldn’t say chaos, but a certain amount of the unknown that you’ve got to allow for if you’re going back and forth from one to the other (solo work to Fleetwood Mac). There’s been a lot of talk about a Fleetwood Mac tour next year, possibly even a Fleetwood Mac album. I think it would be fun to maybe find a producer other than myself, just to make it easier for me and someone who could overview the situation in a healthy way so we could enjoy each other as band mates a little more. So I’ve heard a lot of rumblings about that, but nothing’s been written. There’s nothing on the books for Fleetwood Mac next year, but I would be shocked if that didn’t happen at some point.